Gillibrand's Sex-Assault Bill for Military Fails in Senate
She hoped to remove authority from commanders
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2014 5:06 PM CST
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill after the defeat of the bill.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand has lost her fight to dramatically change the way the Pentagon handles sex-assault cases, reports AP. For now, anyway. She needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster but came up with only 55. And the Hill points out that this wasn't exactly a party-line vote: Eleven Republicans voted for the measure, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mitch McConnell. But 10 Democrats voted against it, including Claire McCaskill and Carl Levin, reports Politico. Under Gillibrand's bill, military commanders would no longer be the ones to decide whether to prosecute cases from within the ranks. Instead, military lawyers would make the call.

"The people who don't trust the chain of the command are the victims," said Gillibrand during debate. She and proponents say cases are going unreported because victims fear retribution. But critics such as McCaskill say that the measure would make things worse and that only the Pentagon's own commanders can get the problem under control. Gillibrand may have lost the high-profile vote, but the Washington Post lays out several ways she emerges a "big winner" nonetheless. Among other things, she has raised her stature in the Senate considerably, writes Ed O'Keefe. Gillibrand promised to bring up the proposal again and said she is confident it will pass the second time around.